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Democratic Islamic Republic of Iran
Flag of North Iran
Flag
Locator Map of North Iran
Location of North Iran in the world.
Capital Tabriz
Government Unity state
• Chairman
Kamran Salehi
• President
Ali Reza Balkhi
Establishment
• Independence
28 August 2009
Population
• Estimate
10,468,251
Currency Taki (TKI)
Time zone UTC+5
Internet TLD .di

The Democratic Islamic Republic of Iran (DIRI, or more commonly known as North Iran) is a landlocked country in Western Asia. Its current capital is in Tabriz, which is also its largest city in terms of population. North Iran is bordered by Azerbaijan and Armenia to the North, Iran to the South, Iraq and Turkey to the West, and the Caspian Sea to the East. The country is located in a largely forest steppe and cold mountain region. Lake Urmia, which is the largest lake in the Middle East, is located in the Western parts of North Iran. On 28 August 2009, North Iran, by means of a rebellion, separated from the rest of Iran, claiming the provinces of (from East to West) Gilan, Ardabil, East Azerbaijan (now the Central Region) and West Azerbaijan (now Western Iran).

History

Province-specific

Gilan

After World War I, Gilan came to be ruled independently of the central government of Tehran and concern arose that the province might permanently separate at some point. Prior to the war, Gilanis had played an important role in the Constitutional Revolution of Iran. Sepahdar-e Tonekaboni (Rashti) was a prominent figure in the early years of the revolution and was instrumental in defeating Mohammad Ali Shah Qajar.

In the late 1910s, many Gilakis gathered under the leadership of Mirza Kuchik Khan, who became the most prominent revolutionary leader in northern Iran in this period. Khan's movement, known as the Jangal movement of Gilan, had sent an armed brigade to Tehran which helped depose the Qajar ruler Mohammad Ali Shah. However, the revolution did not progress the way the constitutionalists had strived for, and Iran came to face much internal unrest and foreign intervention, particularly from the British and Russian Empires.

The Jangalis are glorified in Iranian history and effectively secured Gilan and Mazandaran against foreign invasions. However, in 1920 British forces invaded Bandar-e Anzali, while being pursued by the Bolsheviks. In the midst of this conflict between Britain and Russia, the Jangalis entered into an alliance with the Bolsheviks against the British. This culminated in the establishment of the Persian Socialist Soviet Republic (commonly known as the Socialist Republic of Gilan), which lasted from June 1920 until September 1921.

In February 1921 the Soviets withdrew their support for the Jangali government of Gilan, and signed the Soviet-Iranian Friendship Treaty with the central government of Tehran. The Jangalis continued to struggle against the central government until their final defeat in September 1921 when control of Gilan returned to Tehran.

Ardabil

The province is believed to be as old as the Achaemenid (ca. 550–330 BC). It is mentioned in the Avesta, where prophet Zoroaster was born by the river Aras and wrote his book in the Sabalan Mountains. During Parthian era the city had a special importance among the cities of Azarbaijan. Some Muslim historians attribute foundation of Ardabil to king Peroz I of Sassanid Empire. The Persian poet Ferdowsi also credits the foundation of the city to Peroz I. Ardabil suffered some damages caused by occasional raids of Huns between 4th to 6th century AD. Peroz repaired those damages and fortified the city. Peroz made Ardabil the residence of provincial governor (Marzban) of Azarbaijan.

During the Islamic conquest of Iran, Ardabil was the largest city in North Western Iran, and remained so until the Mongol invasion period. Ardabilis fought the Mongols three times, however the city fell after the third attempt by Mongols. They massacred not only the Ardabilis but inhabitants of neighboring villages and killing everyone they could find. Incursions of Mongols and Georgians left the city in ruins for nearly three centuries til the advent of Safavids.

Safavid Shah Ismail I started his campaign to nationalize Iran's government and land from here, but consequently announced Tabriz as his capital in AD 1500. Yet Ardabil remained an important city both politically and economically until modern times. She was sacked by Ottomans 14 times between 1514–722 and in 1915 and by Russians in 1813, 1828 and in 1916.

Central Region (East Azerbaijan)

East Azerbaijan is one of the most archaic territories in Iran. During the reign of Alexander of Macedon in Iran (331 BCE), a warrior known as Attorpat led a revolt in this area, then a territory of the Medes, and thereafter it was called Attorpatkan. Since then this vicinity has been known as Azarabadegan, Azarbadgan and Azarbayjan.

Islamic researchers proclaim that the birth of the prophet Zoroaster was in this area, in the vicinity of Lake Orumieh (Chichesht), Konzak City. Needless to say, this province was subject to numerous political and economical upheavals, attracting the interest of foreigners. The Russians in particular have tried to exert a lasting influence in the region over the past 300 years, occupying the area on numerous occasions. The constitutionalist movement of Iran began here in the late 19th century.

Ethnic tensions in Azerbaijan can visibly trace their origins back to the colonialist policies of the Soviet Union and Imperial Russia. In a cable sent on July 6, 1945 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the local Soviet commander in Russian (northern) held Azerbaijan was instructed as such:

"Begin preparatory work to form a national autonomous Azerbaijan district with broad powers within the Iranian state and simultaneously develop separatist movements in the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, Gorgan, and Khorasan".

Western Iran (West Azerbaijan)

The major known ancient civilization in the region was that of Mannaeans, a buffer state between Urartian and Assyrian sphere of influence. Mannaeans in turn spoke a language related to Urartian. After the fall of Assyria, the region was known as Mantiene (or Matiene) in Greek sources. Matiene bordered on Atropatene situated east of Lake Urmia. The region subsequently was known as Persarmenia from the second century BC. as late as 11th century AD.

In the late 4th century AD Sassanids incorporated the area into the neighbouring Adhurpadaghan satrapy to the east. The name Adhurpatagan, later Arabicized to Azarbaijan, derives from Atropates, an Iranian satrap of Media under the Achaemenid empire, who later was reinstated as the satrap of Media under Alexander of Macedonia.

Around the 10th century when the region of Persarmnia was under rule of Hadhabani Kurds, the medieval geographer Al-Muqaddasi described the area of what is today called West Azarbaijan province as part of Armenia:

"Arminiya is an important district. Its capital is Dabil and among its towns are Bidlis, Khilat, Arjish, Barkari, Khuy, Salmas, Urmiya, Dakharraqan, Maragha, Ahar, Marand, Sanjan, Qaliqala, Qandariya, Qal'at, Yunus, Nurin.

Azarbaijan: Its capital and metropolis of the region is Ardabil. Among its towns are: Rasba, Tabriz, Jabirwan, Khunaj, Al-Miyanj, Al-Sarat, Barwa, Warthan, Muqan, Mimadh, Barzand."

The battle of DimDim between Safavids and Kurds took place in this region. After a long and bloody siege led by the Safavid grand vizier Hatem Beg, which lasted from November 1609 to the summer of 1610, the Castle of Dimdim was captured. All the defenders were killed and Shah Abbas I ordered a general massacre in Bradost and Mukriyan (reported by Eskandar Beg, Safavid Historian in the Book Alam Aray-e Abbasi) and resettled the Turkish Afshar tribe in the region while deporting many Kurdish tribes to Khorasan region.

The Persarmneian districts of Mākū (Artaz), Ḵoy (Her), Salmās (Zarewand), and Arasbārān (Parspatunikʿ), and the region of Urmia (Parskahaykʿ), according to 19th century administrative division became a part of the northwestern Iranian province of Azarbaijan. In 1937 the province was renamed to Shomal-e gharb (i.e. northwestern province). Shortly after the province was divided into a western and eastern part which were renamed to Chaharom (Fourth province) and sevom (Third province), respectively. In 1961 Fourth province was renamed West Azarbaijan by the Iranian authorities.

Significant events in 19th and 20th century that took place are:

  • Shaikh Ubeidullah Revolts, west and south of Lake Urmia in 1880;
  • Simko Insurrections, west of Lake Urmia from 1918 to 1922;
  • the Soviet occupation in 1946;
  • the foundation and destruction of the Republic of Mahabad in 1946; and
  • periodic severe fighting from 1979 until 1990s (and even to the present, but on a smaller scale) between Kurdish (nationalist and communist) forces and the Iranian government. At times, large parts of the province were without government control.

These separatist movements may have many motivations and origins; however, the colonialist policies of the Soviet Union and Imperial Russia encouraged such movements. In a cable sent on July 6, 1945 by the Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, the local Soviet commander in Russian held Azerbaijan (northern Azerbaijan) was instructed:

"Begin preparatory work to form a national autonomous Azerbaijan district with broad powers within the Iranian state and simultaneously develop separatist movements in the provinces of Gilan, Mazandaran, Gorgan, and Khorasan".

Formation of North Iran

In March of 2008, Iranian voters went to the polls in the legislative election, however, nearly 90 percent of reformist candidates have already been disqualified by that time. This outraged the public, and led to an attempted coup in June of the same month by military officers part of the Liberal Islamist Coalition (LIC). The LIC, which was centered around the Northwestern areas of Iran, had by this time become more of a paramilitary organization since its banishment in early the same year.

The attempted coup utilized the aftereffects of the Political Crisis of 2007, however, still failed miserably as support quickly died out within the first few hours of the coup. The main conspirators, Brigadier General Kamran Salehi and his closest allies (which was secretly supported by Mir-Hossein Mousavi) then decided taking Tehran and the Iranian central government was an unrealistic idea, and decided after much discussion to attempt to take the provinces which make out North Iran today.

After Mousavi lost the Iranian presidential election in 2009, unexpected protests erupted countrywide. The conspirators utilized the chaos once again and by military force, took the Tabriz government in less than an hour. The major cities in North Iran followed quickly, creating a chain effect for the provinces. This all occurred on the 27th of August 2009, and when the Iranian central government responded on the 28th, it was too late. When the Iranian military entered the streets of Tabriz, they were dealt with by the North Iran military which was formed less than 24 hours prior. The official declaration of independence was released one hour after the battle was won.

Although still somewhat a radical Islamist state, the current North Iranian government takes a more liberal approach to issues, thus has enjoyed somewhat better relations in the international community. However, most Western states still condemn actions such as abuses of women's rights within North Iran.

Geography and climate

Contrary to the blazing deserts to the South, North Iran enjoys a cool, dry climate, being in the main a mountainous region. But the gentle breezes off the Caspian Sea have some influence on the climate of the low-lying areas. Temperatures run up to 8.9 °C in Tabriz, and 20 °C in Maraqeh, in the winter dropping to -10-15 °C at least (depending on how cold the overall year is). The ideal seasons to visit this country have been said to be in the spring and summer months.

Government and politics

North Iran's political system takes place within the framework of a stratocratic autocracy, where the Chairman has almost unlimited power. The President of North Iran, however, is elected by the people and acts as somewhat of a deputy to the Chairman. Thus, both persons make out the head of government.

There is no actual legislature in the Democratic Islamic Republic of Iran, thus most laws are passed as decrees. The Council of Representation represents their areas in government, however hold no real power. They may propose laws to the President and Chairman, however it remains up to those two individuals (moreover the Chairman) if the bill will become law.

The Supreme Court is the highest court of the land, with a subordinate Provincial Court in each province. Special courts such as the Military Court and Religious Court also exist on national level. Judges are selected by the Chairman and are usually current or former military officers (much like the rest of government).

Besides all that, the political system in North Iran is somewhat more liberal and not entirely oppressive like other Middle Eastern states. Freedom of religion is granted however there may be no blasphemy or disrespectful behavior against Islam. Freedom of speech, however limited, does exist in some context. Women's rights, although less than Western nations, are respected in some areas. Women are allowed to serve in certain areas of the military, police and medical services. Men are generally also not allowed to abuse their wives.

The Religious Court only has jurisdiction over people who are registered Muslims, who make out the majority of the population. Only these people are subject to the Religious Court, which hears cases of adultery, blasphemy and conversion. However, the court also hears cases where someone behaved in a disrespectful manner against Islam or its teachings.

Military

The North Iranian Armed Forces are the unified armed forces of North Iran. This single organization consists of the sea, land, and air commands called the Naval Command, Ground Forces Command, and Air Command, which together are overseen by the Security Commission, chaired by the Chairman of North Iran, who also acts as the Commander-in-Chief along with the President.

Being a stratocracy, the Armed Forces basically runs the country under the Chairman. The democratically elected President however, does not need to be a current or former member of the military. The police forces, which exist on federal level, are commanded by the military, as well as most state healthcare institutions. Tax gathered from the population go directly to the military, which in turn divides it to the appropriate areas.

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